WonderCon

Hey, I’ll be at WonderCon this week.  My first time there, and I’m excited to see all of you who are attending!  Here’s my schedule — but of course, if you see me wandering around, feel free to say hi.

Signing Schedule:

WCA Signing area in the back of Hall B
Friday 5:00 – 5:45
Saturday 4:15 – 5:00

Mysterious Galaxy Booth
Saturday 11 – 11:30

Friday — April 18, 2014

3:30 – 4:30 Spotlight on Marjorie Liu: Novelist and attorney (and WonderCon Anaheim special guest) Marjorie Liu has established herself as a cross-genre writer-from paranormal romance, urban fantasy, to comic books-including her latest run on Astonishing X-Men for Marvel Comics. Join her for a rare Q&A session, moderated by Mimi Cruz from Night Flight Comics! Room 203

Sunday — April 20, 2014

11:00 – 12:00 Breaking Into Comics the Marvel Way: Are you a writer or artist? Ever dream of working for Marvel? Do you find yourself thinking, “I could do that, if I knew how!” Well, here’s your chance! Join editor Sana Amanat and panelists Kris Anka (X-Men), Kelly Sue DeConnick (Captain Marvel), Steve Lieber (Superior Foes of Spider-Man), Richard Isanove (Savage Wolverine), Marjorie Liu (Astonishing X-Men), James Robinson ( Fantastic Four), and Mark Waid (Daredevil) to find out how to get your foot in the door at Marvel! Room 207

NOTE:  As you can see below, there’s a timing conflict between these two panels.  I’ll be at both, but half-time — skipping from Surviving Well to The Secret Origin.

12:30-1:30 Surviving Well— Saving the world, etcetera is always important, but so is the quality of life for the survivors. WonderCon Anaheim special guest Marjorie Liu (Labyrinth of Stars), Cecil Castellucci (The Tin Star), Genese Davis (The Holder’s Dominion), John Mulhall (Geddy’s Moon) and Gretchen McNeil (3:59) discuss when “just” saving the world is not enough. Moderated by LeAnna Herrera of Mysterious Galaxy. Room 208

12:30-2:00 The Secret Origin of Good Readers— Learn how to incorporate comic books into your classroom. New York Times bestselling author Frank Beddor (The Looking Glass Wars, Hatter M), New York Times bestselling author Marjorie Liu (Astonishing X-Men, Dirk & Steele), Harvey Award nominee Anthony Del Col (Kill Shakespeare), and Mimi Cruz (Night Flight Comics) will provide insight and discuss how students can create their own comics in a classroom setting. Newly updated, The Secret Origin of Good Readers resource book is a free PDF download at www.night-flight.com/secretorigin/index.html courtesy of XMission.com. Room 203

Women. Comics. Some thoughts.

So, here we go again: the problem of sexual harassment in the comic book industry.  Which totally feels like deja vuI wrote about this back in November, as did a lot of creators, but to what point?  Did anyone learn from the discussion?

Apparently not.  Because the shit has hit the fan again, and as always it’s the ladies who are paying the price for having the gall to say what’s on our minds.  This time around it’s Janelle Asselin, who wrote a piece called “Let’s Talk About How Some Men Talk To Women In Comics”.  It’s part of a larger discussion she began about art, marketing, gender, all very non-threatening– and yet, she was threatened with rape.  Just for talking about a comic book cover.

That’s fucked up.  You all realize that, right?  But it happens, regularly, even if the ladies who are subject to this abuse don’t always bring it up.   And if it’s not rape threats, it’s other kinds of verbal abuse or sexual harassment.  Men are frequently surprised when they hear this happens.  Heidi MacDonald comments on it at The Beat:

But I’m kind of amazed that men are unaware of this. And it is true that male editors and writers and artists in comics have gotten death threats over some stupid comic book thing, so there is a whole culture of insane threats. But the rape thing is a special gift just for the girls.

Yes, indeed.

I twittered about this earlier, but sometimes it feels as though talking about misogyny in this industry is like dealing with Groundhog Day: there seems to be a continuous reset, a collective male amnesia around the issue.  As if, when a woman speaks out, it’s for the first time and everyone is shocked.  Just shocked, I tell you.  Sexism exists?  OH MY GOD.

It’s sort of amazing, really.  You’d think this issue doesn’t matter.  Hell, back in November there was more heat online about Doctor Who (just amongst comic book professionals) than what I saw after scanning a few weeks worth of discussion about women and harassment in our industry.  Frankly, I shouldn’t be surprised.  Issues of patriarchy aside, folks get tired, or they’re afraid of controversy — or they feel there’s nothing to be done right away.  This is a long-term problem, yeah?  Can’t be solved overnight — and hey, we’re talking about it.  Things will change.

But things haven’t really changed.  Not in our little industry, and not in the rest of the world.

A while ago I read a brief interview with Malalai Joya, an activist for the rights of women in Afghanistan.  You should check it out right now.  Don’t worry, it’s not long, and gets right to the point.

There, did you read it?  I’d like to point out this passage:  “Self-immolation in Afghanistan is skyrocketing. We’ve seen rape cases, acid attacks, burning girls’ schools, cutting the nose and ears off women, beating women with lashes in public, executing them in public, accusing them of adultery without even bringing them to the symbolic courts that we have.”

Also, this quote from Amnesty International’s page on violence against women: “Around the world at least one woman in every three has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Every year, violence in the home and the community devastates the lives of millions of women. Gender-based violence kills and disables as many women between the ages of 15 and 44 as cancer, and its toll on women’s health surpasses that of traffic accidents and malaria combined. Violence against women is rooted in a global culture of discrimination which denies women equal rights with men and which legitimizes the appropriation of women’s bodies for individual gratification or political ends.”

And this:  

1.  Violence against women feeds off discrimination and serves to reinforce it.
2.  Violence against women is compounded by discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnicity, sexual identity, social status, class, and age.
3.  There is an unbroken spectrum of violence that women face at the hands of people who exert control over them.

Phew.

Some of you will argue that sexual harassment in the comic book industry cannot compare to acid attacks, beatings, executions,  and the deprivation of basic human rights.  And you’d be correct.  But oh, wait — when we’re sexually harassed, threatened with rape, groped on the convention floor, that’s not quite true is it?  Because our right not to be discriminated against, or coerced into sex, or abused — well, that’s just been violated.

The problem we’re discussing in our industry is symptomatic of a larger issue.  Specifically, we are living in a world that perpetuates and upholds the sub-human treatment of women.  And that discrimination — the patriarchal idea that women are not fully human, that we are objects, commodities, property — trickles down and down, into every facet of our lives.  Is serial sexual harassment the same as an acid attack?  No, of course not.  But are the roots of that violence the same?  Yes.

It’s not just these individual cases.  It’s not just these lone voices.  It’s a mass cry.  It’s a pattern of abuse that goes beyond serial harassment in the halls of a convention center or hotel bar — and stretches all the way across the world to a girl who has her school burned down because her humanity, her freedom, her voice, her possibility of becoming more — must be murdered.

It doesn’t mean that any one individual is evil.  It doesn’t mean that all men are terrible.  But the larger culture of misogyny, in all its forms — from the obvious to the subtle — that is evil, and it must be recognized, and fought.  Because things will not get better unless we name this, and see it.

And so the conversation continues.

Japan, again.

I’m not sure where to start when it comes to writing about Japan.  I’ve been here since February 22nd, and still have a couple more weeks left before I come home.  I’d stay longer if I could.  I’ve mentioned this before, but travel opens the eyes — the little things we take for granted at home become new when we find ourselves in other places.

It’s raining out.  I’m sitting in the immense stone lobby of a ryokan in Miyajima. We arrived yesterday evening via ferry, via train (from Hiroshima), and spent the evening wandering around, tasting grilled oysters, chewing on tiny little cakes stuffed with sweet potatoes.  The weather was fantastic, thankfully, and the rain didn’t stop us this morning from taking another long walk.  Our reward was a soak in the natural hot waters in the lower levels of this place — a small alcove overlooking the forest.

This morning we head back to Tokyo, with a pit stop of three hours in Kyoto.  Just enough time to store our luggage in the train station lockers, and dash out for lunch and a stroll.  Hopefully, the rain won’t follow us there — but either way, we’ll have an adventure.  That’s the beauty of travel — and the unexpected is very welcome in my life.

The photos below are all from Miyajima. More to follow.

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VONA / Japan

So, it turns out that the VONA deadline was extended to March 15th.  Here’s the press release regarding my workshop:

Attention, Writers of Color, Writers of Popular Fiction– Romance, Mystery; Urban Fantasy. Take a workshop with Marjorie Liu this summer. The VONA/Voices Workshop presents the Popular Fiction– Romance, Mystery; Urban Fantasy workshop for Writers of Color.  Whether you’re working in romance, comic books, sci-fi/fantasy, or mysteries, your work will be shared and discussed with our excellent workshop members.

Held at the University or California at Berkeley from June 22-28th, this workshop is in its 15th year. VONA/VOICES, the only multi-genre workshop for writers of color in the nation, brings writers of color from the margins to a community where their work is centralized and honored.

Marjorie Liu is a New York Times Bestselling author of novels and comics. She is best known for paranormal romance novels, urban fantasy novels, and her comic work with Marvel Comics. Liu was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comic Book (2013) for her work on Astonishing X-Men. Just released is Labyrinth of Stars, part of her Hunter Kiss urban fantasy series.  http://marjoriemliu.com

To apply, go to www.voicesatvona.org. The final deadline is March 15, 2014. Some scholarships are available.

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I’m still in Japan.  I’ll be posting more about the trip, but for the moment here are some photos from the other day: a nighttime shot of Tokyo from the 52nd floor of the Mori, along with part of an exhibit there — and a subway portrait.  I’ve been enjoying snapping shots from the train.  You can see a lot more photos from Tokyo on my instagram account — updated daily.

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